After the battle of Hogwarts, Harry explained to his friends that he wanted some time alone, so he was going to get a room at the Hogshead for a while. He explained to Ron that even though he loved Mrs. Weasley, Harry knew she would fuss over them but would also try to treat him like a kid and he just wouldn't take that anymore and he didn't want to hurt Mrs. Weasley's feelings especially right now. He told Ron that if he wanted to go for a walk or even have a drink, he wanted to be able to do that without having to explain to his mother. Ron and Hermione understood especially after what Harry explained to them about the memory that Snape had given Harry. So after the Weasley's and Hermione left, Harry left right after them. He apparated to Hogsmeade and walked up to the small dark pub and stepped inside.
'Harry, thought you'd be sleeping,' Aberforth smiled.
'I want to Ab, but I'm wondering if I can have a room for a while. I just need some time to myself.'
'If this is where you want to stay,' Aberforth reached behind him and grabbed a key, 'Here, stay as long as you want. But I bet you don't want anyone to know, meaning reporters.'
Harry laughed wearily, 'Yeah, I've told my friends, they know I'm here, but no, I do not want to see any reporters.'
'Alright, I'll keep it to myself, go up and sleep. You look like you're about to fall down.'
'Thanks,' Harry walked up the stairs, found his room, put his bag down then sat on the bed and that was the last thing he remember.
When Harry woke, he noticed it was dark and he was lying on top of the covers. He got up, stretched and went into the bathroom and noticed he still had a lot of blood and dirt all over him, so he stripped off and stepped into the shower. He couldn't believe how good it felt, so he just stood there under the water, letting it soothe his aching muscles. When he finished, he dried, dressed and headed down into the dark, quiet pub. He put some gold on the bar, grabbed himself a small glass of Firewhiskey, then sat at the back, taking the occasional sip.
As Harry sat there, the events of the last few days kept playing over and over in his head, until he ended up drinking the rest of the glass before getting another one.
'I hope you're not going to turn this into a bad habit Harry,' Aberforth said from his doorway.
'Hey, I didn't wake you did I?'
'No, I couldn't sleep anymore, then I heard someone in here. But you didn't answer my question.'
'No, I'm not planning on it, I just needed something at the moment. You don't mind, do you Ab?'
'no and you're an adult, you can do what you want. Can I ask you something though?'
'Sure, I'll try to answer if I can.'
'When you and Voldemort were talking in the great hall, you said all his horcruxes were gone. I happen to know what those are, not many people would know the name though. Can you tell me how many he made?'
Harry sighed wearily, 'Seven, that's how you're brother died, well what was causing his death. He knew he was dying, one of the horcruxes cursed his hand. So he asked Snape to kill him when the time was right.'
'So that's the job he passed on to you, destroying some of the worst dark objects there are?'
'He only told me and let me tell my friends because he knew it had to come down to us in the end and we couldn't tell anyone because if word got back to Riddle, he would have made more,' Harry took another drink before he looked up at the old bar man, 'If I tell you something, can you keep it to yourself.'
'I won't repeat anything you tell me, so what's up Harry,' Aberforth sat across from him.
'The night he tried to kill me as a kid, he was planning on making another one with my death, but because of my mother, I ended up being that one. I was the one keeping him alive. I only found out not long before I walked into the forbidden forest and I do get why you're brother never told me, but passed on that information to Snape so he could tell me at the right time. If I knew I had to die, I don't know if I would have had the strength to look for the others. I'm not sure how to deal with all this, first the prophecy that one of us had to kill the other and even though he had to die, it was me that killed him, then him being part of me almost my whole life, the man that killed my parents, that killed so many people. I spoke to Sirius not long before he died, I thought I was becoming more like Riddle because I kept getting angry. Now I know it was because we were connected, but it doesn't stop me feeling like something has changed with me.'
'All I can say about that Harry is if he had part of his soul inside me, I'd probably end up getting drunk. But we are completely different people. You've proven you are a very strong young man, courageous, wise and sometimes stupidly brave. So if you're alive and he's dead, then add the fact that all his spells weren't binding, I take it you let him kill you, never fought, which means you gave us a protection, like what your mother did with you. She willingly sacrificed herself to save you, you did the same thing to save all of us. Yet you lived, so that piece of soul actually protected you.'
'Yes, to all that. Just before I walked up to him, I was thinking of my mother. But I actually thought I was going to die and be joining her, well, joining all of them. But there's another thing. When he hit me with the curse, I went somewhere, spoke to your brother. We talked about you, Arianna, Grindlewald, the deathly hallows, your mother. He finally told me everything. But you know what else he said to me.'
'So my brother waited for you, not surprising, you did mean a great deal to him. So what wise thing did my brother say?'
'Nothing wise Ab, but he gave me a choice, if I wanted to, I could have gone on, or come back. I actually considered going on, leaving all this behind. But something else you're brother said to me many times over the years, well not just to me, but to everyone. Doing what is right is always harder than doing what is easy, sometimes you have to choose right over easy. I know easy would have been to go on and leave him to everyone else and I would have been with Sirius, with my parents. I just couldn't do it, I had to do what was right. Now I'm back, so how do I live with all this?'
'Time and you have to forgive yourself for something that wasn't you're fault. Yes, you might have kept him alive, but you never knew that and you never wanted that, you never wanted any of that. Albus told me about the prophecy and the other boy. We might not have gotten on, but we did talk. He would ask me my opinion on things, sometimes he would take it, other times he wouldn't. I know who the other boy is Harry and even though he's a completely different person now to what he was, if Voldemort chose him, then we would still be living under him. Everything he put you through, the way you were raised by those muggles all contributed to who you are and made you able to defeat him. Neville, well he has a lot of courage today and would have probably died if he had to. But to go through everything you did, no, he would not have survived back then.'
'I know Neville is so different from that scared kid I first met, but he always had that courage inside him, he just needed something to bring it out. That started when Bellatrix escaped, he realised what needed to be done. He really took charge of the DA when I was gone, he makes a great leader. He told me how you helped, not just him, but helped with everything. How many people did you get through the tunnel that had been hurt by the Carrows?'
'A lot Harry, you're girl was one of them. Neville explained why you broke up with her, smart, but they still used occlumense on her, found out the reason. That was at Christmas time, so you never saw the mess they made of her. She looked a lot like Neville and Seamus, that mainly came down to her not being able to tell them where you were. Some kid called Parkinson told the Carrows you two were together. She's got a long road to recovery even if her outside wounds are healed, her inside ones, there not going to go away any time soon. Arthur came here to get her, using polyjuice potion, he almost ran back through the tunnel, but because Ginny could hardly stand up, I think that was the only reason he took her home and not confronted the Carrows.'
Harry felt like he was going to be sick, but stared up at Aberforth, 'So they beat the crap out of her and I thought I was keeping her safe by breaking up with her, something I didn't want to do.'
'They did more than that Harry, they did a lot more to those girls and I hope you know what I mean by that. She's going to need a lot of time and support,' Aberforth could see Harry turning pale, then he ran from the pub and up the stairs. He sighed and slowly walked up to Harry's room and heard him being sick, 'She will need you're strength Harry.'
Harry slowly came out of the bathroom, 'Do you think she can forgive me for leaving her alone to go through that hell?'
'Yes, because she loves you. Now I have no idea if she told you that, but why she was here, unconscious waiting for Arthur to turn up. I helped as much as I could, she kept calling for you. But it'll be light soon, why don't you clean up and go see her. I think I visit from the man she loves is just what she needs right now.'
'Yeah, I think I will Ab, thanks,' Harry nodded, put his wands back in his pocket, then headed downstairs and outside before apparating to the Burrow. He quietly made his way inside and up the stairs. He opened Ginny's door then just stood there staring at her why she slept. 'I'm sorry,' Harry said quietly.
'Not you're fault Harry, you didn't know any of that was happening,' Arthur said as he walked up behind him and stared at his daughter.
'Will she be alright Mr. Weasley?'
'With time and you will be her biggest need right now. She has a couple of nightmares every night, calls out to you, asking you to help her, to take her away. My daughter loves you very much Harry.'
Harry turned and faced Mr. Weasley, 'Just like I love her Mr. Weasley, but I thought I was keeping her safe. It almost killed me to leave her behind, but I had no choice.'
'We know, Ginny explained about all that. When the boys saw her, we had to stop them going to Hogwarts, but I will tell you this, I wanted to go and kill them for doing that to my daughter. I never thought I would want to kill anyone, but the moment I saw Ginny, that changed. Why don't you sit in there with her, if she sees you when she wakes up it might finally put a smile back on her face. Something she hasn't done in a long time.' Mr. Weasley watched as Harry sat on the edge of Ginny's bed, then lightly ran his hand over her hair. He could see the love Harry had for his daughter, now he just hoped that Harry's love can help his daughter through her emotional battle.